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Maurice Hooker begins road back to contention against short notice replacement

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
19
Dec

Maurice Hooker believes he has one more run in him to become a world titleholder at 140 pounds.

Hooker will face late-sub Uriel Perez Friday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between Daniel Jacobs and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.

Both fights will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Hooker was originally scheduled to face Pedro Campa of Mexico, but Campa had to withdraw from the fight late last week, reportedly due to an injury suffered to his eye during training camp.



Despite the last-minute change in opponents, Hooker does not see a conflict or an issue leading up to Friday night. The hard-hitting Perez (19-4, 17 knockouts), who resides in Queretaro, Mexico, last fought on Sept. 28, knocking out previously-unbeaten Mathieu Germain in the fifth round.

“The new opponent doesn’t change anything,” Hooker told The Ring Wednesday afternoon. “As far as I’m concerned, he (Perez) has to adjust to me.”

The 30-year-old will return to the ring for the first time since his knockout loss to Jose Ramirez in Arlington, Texas, not far from his hometown of Dallas. Hooker lost his WBO title in the unification fight against Ramirez, who had put up his WBC title.

Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KOs) recently hired trainer Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre, who also trains WBO titleholder and Ring Magazine’s No. 2-ranked welterweight Terence Crawford and WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring. After spending weeks in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Hooker sees the difference in the sparring and work he gets training alongside those fighters.

“This is a stay-busy fight for me, but we’ve done a lot of great work for this training camp,” said Hooker, who had won the vacant WBO title by defeating Terry Flanagan on June 9 of last year. “We work two-three times a day. I had worked with Terence before my fight against Terry Flanagan. You put in the work and you go rest and do the same thing the next day. I’m glad to work with ‘Bomac’ and to work with Terence and Jamel.”

There was talk of Hooker moving up to fight at welterweight, but after speaking with family and promoter Dino Duva, he decided to stay at 140 pounds.

Friday night’s clash is at a contract weight of 144 pounds.

Hooker hopes that an impressive victory would put him back in the title hunt against the current world titleholders, whether it is a rematch against Ramirez or Josh Taylor, who holds the IBF and WBA titles. Taylor also won the recent World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament with a win over Regis Prograis on Oct. 26.

“I really want to fight Taylor. I think Ramirez has his mandatories for the WBC and WBO in 2020, so the next option is Taylor, if he wants to fight me.”

Despite the setback to Ramirez, Hooker still believes he belongs amongst the elite in the division. He is not ranked by any of the sanctioning bodies yet at 140 pounds, but Hooker does have a No. 6 ranking by The Ring.

Hooker believes he can and will win a world title belt when given the opportunity.

“The loss to Ramirez was a blessing in disguise. Props to him. He caught when I dropped my guard for that split-second. I have a new trainer and new surroundings and I believe things happen for a reason. I learned from my mistakes and I moved forward.”

“I see myself amongst the top three, four fighters at 140 pounds. I’m going to show Friday that I’m a great fighter. I’m well-prepared and I’m going to get back in the ring and move forward to fight for a world title.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, Boxingscene, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing  

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